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SERMON XXI.

LUKE xviii. 19.

He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

As man fell by pride, it is reasonable to conclude that he can only rise again by humility : and here we are taught that this is the express ordination and appointment of God; for thus saith the faithful and true Witness, “ Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased ; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." I cannot therefore employ your time to better purpose, especially upon such an occasion as this*, than in opening the nature of true humiliation, and endeavouring to illustrate the necessity and use of it, to prepare our hearts for those enriching communications both of mercy and grace, which our Saviour, in this passage, encourageth us to expect.

I begin with opening the nature of true humiliation, This takes its rise from spiritual discoveries of the evil of sin, as the transgression of a law which is holy, just and good; as an act of outrageous and unprovoked rebellion against the mildest, as well as the most righteous administration; as the basest ingratitude to our kindest Benefactor, the Author of our being, and of all that we possess; and especially as it renders us unlike to him who is

* Preached on a day of humiliation, before celebrating the Lord's supper.

not only the standard but the source of perfection, and consequently incapable of any friendly correspondence with the Father of our spirits, the Fountain of light, of life, and of joy.

These spiritual discoveries of the evil of sin, produce a fixed and solid apprehension of our own ill deserving because of it. We see the justice of the sentence which condemns us, and cannot help acknowledging that we are unworthy of the least of all God's mercies, and liable to that tremendous wrath which is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men. Hence arise grief and shame, and all that inward distress which necessarily attend the consciousness of guilt, the present sense of forfeited happiness, and the fearful prospect of that unknown misery which awaits transgressors in the world to come.

To all which must be added such a deep conviction of our utter inability to do any thing that can be effectual for our own recovery, as issues in a despair of relief from every other quarter but the free mercy of God, extended to sinners through Jesus Christ, and the effectual operation of his renewing grace. We are not truly humbled till we feel ourselves wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, equally destitute of righteousness and strength, incapable of making any satisfaction for past offences, and having no power of our own to rectify that fatal disorder in our frame, which is the bitter fruit of our apostasy from God.

Such was the state of the publican's mind, who is presented to our view, in the foregoing parable, as an approved example for our imitation; whilst the Pharisee, who trusted in himself that he was righteous, standing apart from his fellow-worshippers, as one who disdained to hold communion with them, boldly addressed the Divine Majesty, and, under the specious form of thanksgiving, poured forth the pride and uncharitableness of his heart. The publican, we are told, stood afar off; and, though his face was turned towards the mercy-seat, yet, conscious of his unworthiness, he would not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven, but smiting upon his breast, as the seat of his disease and pain, from whence he despaired of fetching any relief, he as it were flies from himself to the God of all grace, and gives vent to his penitent and humble hope, in these few but emphatical words, “ God be merciful to me a sinner.” But the nature of true humiliation will more fully appear from the salutary purposes. for which it is intended, which was the

Second thing I proposed to illustrate; and hence likewise we shall discover how necessary it is, in order to our regaining that happiness we have forfeited. And,

I. It is of use to disgrace and mortify carnal self, that usurping idol which sits on the throne of God, and reigns in the heart of every natural man. Herein lies the essence of man's apostasy. He is falien from God to self. Dissatisfied with the rank which God had assigned him, he attempted to break loose from the Author of his being, and to seize upon knowledge, immortality, and happiness, without any dependence upon the hand that formed him. This, my brethren, is the original disease of our nature; in this consisteth the sinfulness and the misery

He loveth himself supremely, he liveth to him self ultimately: the genuine language of his heart is, " Who is the Lord, that I should obey him ?"

He begins indeed to alter his tone, when conviction, like an armed man, forceth its way into his soul; then he feels his dependence, and wisheth to be at peace with that Being whom he finds he is unable to resist. For this end he will part, at least for a season, with many of the members of the body of sin. Nay, so far as the external act extends, there are few duties perhaps which he will not consent to perform. But, when he is driven from the outworks, he only retires to the chief fortress of sin. Still self is worshipped in a different form; and, though he

of man.

sees that it cannot possess the throne by violence, yet he hopes that it may be able to purchase it with a price. Thus the homage that was paid to sinful self, is only transferred to righteous self; and now the idol which was formerly black as hell, being white-washed, and decked with some forms of godliness, is permitted to wield the sceptre in peace, till either grace or vengeance wipe off the false colouring, and, stripping the deceiver of his gorgeous apparel, cast him down to the ground, and put a final period to his usurped domination.

Of all the parts of mortification, self-denial is by far the most painful and difficult; indeed all the rest are vir tually contained in it. Were it only riches or honours, or even the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul, a carnal mind, stung with remorse, and terrified with the prospect of impending wrath, might be brought to part with them ; but to part with his all, with his life, with his self, this indeed is a hard saying, and more than enough to make him go away sorrowful.

Now herein appeareth the end and the necessity of such humiliation as I endeavoured to describe. This laveth the whole load upon self, and breaketh the very heart of the old man; it setteth the house on fire, in which we both trusted and delighted, and maketh us not only to see, but to feel that it is time for us to abandon it, lest we be consumed. This then is the first office of humiliation, to hide pride from our eyes, by showing us that we are our own destroyers, and giving us such discoveries of our guilt and pollution, that we are made to abhor ourselves in dust and in ashes, and to cry out with the publican, God be merciful to us sinners. This leads me to mention a

Second, and more salutary end of humiliation, which indeed may be called its ultimate end, because the selfannihilation I have been speaking of, derives its chief importance from its tendency to promote it, and that is, VOL. II.

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true humiliation prepares the soul for the honourable reception of Christ and his grace. .

I say, for the honourable reception of Christ ; it is not meet that he should come into an unhumbled heart ; for, though his errand be to heal us, yet he must have the welcome that is due to a physician. He comes indeed to save us, but he comes at the same time to be honoured in our salvation. Though his grace be free, yet he will not expose it to contempt, but have the fulness and the freedom of it acknowledged and glorified. Faith indeed aeeepts the gift, but then it must be a humble faith that is sensible of its worth ; a thankful faith, that magnifieth the Giver; and an obedient faith, that will practically improve the mercy bestowed. Christ hath iro grace so free as to save those who neither feel their need of it, nor know its worth. Christ's benefits are not applied in the same way they were purchased. When he came to ransom us, he consented to be a sufferer; for then he bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows; the chastisement of eur peace was laid upon him, as the substitute and surety of guilty man; but when he comes, by his saving grace, into the soul, he will not then be entertained with contempt. He came in the flesh on purpose to be humbled; but, when he comes in the spirit, it is tlrat he may be exalted. On the cross he was reputed a sinner, and bore the punishment that was due to sin ; but, in the soul, he is the conqueror of sin, and comes to take possession of his own, and therefore nrust be treated according to his dignity. It was the hour and power of darkness while he suffered ; but, when he enters into the heart by his quickening spirit, that is the hour of triumph, and the prevailing power of heavenly light; and, therefore, thougle in the flesh he submitted to contempt and reproach, yet he will not endure to be slighted in the soul. No; there le must be enthroned in our most reverend esteem, and crowned with our highest gratitude and love. The cross must there be the portion of his enemies. The erown

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